When it comes to high school athletics, Carroll County has always had high participation. More than 3,600 students played at least one sport during the 2015-16 school year, and about 200 Carroll County Public Schools students who graduated in 2017 committed to playing a sport in a college outside of the county.

That's why it makes so much sense for Carroll Community College to add an intercollegiate athletic program, which its board of trustees voted to approve Wednesday night. In doing so, Carroll will become the 17th of Maryland's 18 community colleges to offer sports programs, and will look to join both the National Junior College Athletic Association and the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference.

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Men's and women's cross country and soccer teams are expected to debut in the fall 2019 semester, with plans to add lacrosse, baseball and softball programs over the next few years in a second phase if the first phase is deemed a success.

We see no reason it wouldn't be. The decision is a win all around.

College Sports: Carroll Community approves inaugural athletic program

Carroll Community College's Board of Trustees approved the school's first athletic program

Adding intercollegiate athletics gives an opportunity to local varsity athletes who may otherwise be forced to stop playing competitively after high school. For some, intercollegiate sports at the junior college level is simply an opportunity to continue playing a sport they love for two more years. For others, much like attending classes at Carroll Community College can serve as an academic springboard, it's an opportunity to continue developing their skills to potentially play for a Division I, II or III team in the NCAA and possibly to earn some athletic scholarship money.

The college stands to stem some of its declines in enrollment by offering athletics as well. College officials estimated there could be as many as 170 full-time student-athletes over a four-year period. Some of those students are already playing sports at other community colleges in the state, most at nearby Howard County.

By increasing full-time enrollment through student-athletes, the college expects to be able to expand its academic program offerings for all students. And it can do so without increasing costs. Officials project to "at least" break even financially based on a minimum number of student-athletes attending the school full-time (a requirement to be eligible to play), paying an athletic fee and maintaining eligibility.

Most importantly, it adds to the all-around student experience at Carroll Community College. Vice President of Academics and Student Affairs Dr. Rosalie Mince noted that while intercollegiate athletics is indeed a strategy to positively affect enrollment, "it is also a chance for Carroll to provide students with more opportunities to develop their leadership and teamwork skills. Participation in intercollegiate athletics requires grit. We want to help students develop the abilities they need to set long-term goals and overcome challenges."

Ask any former high school athlete how sports prepared them for life after school and they are likely to list it as a positive experience. Students who get the opportunity to continue honing those skills at Carroll Community College through athletics will be better for it.



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